A lot of my journey to better health has come from 30-day challenges. I recently wrote about how they have helped me and also how they are not perfect. So, today I will share a few tips on how to have a successful 30-day challenge, if you are up for it.
1. Start with a 1-day challenge or a 3-day challenge or some number much, much smaller than 30 days. You will learn a lot about your habits and your willpower by trying something for a few days. Then, if it proves to be more difficult than you thought, you have the chance to re-evaluate your plans.
2. Start with changing only one thing at a time. Yes, we all have a handful — or more — of habits we’d like to change, but attempting them all at once, is not setting yourself up for success. Pick one thing — probably the easiest thing — and start small. Our culture does not promote small. But, our culture is also largely unhealthy. Let’s be different and celebrate small victories!
3. Have a plan. Giving up your favorite junk food? Have a substitute (or two or three) planned out for when those cravings hit. You will have cravings, and you will be much more tempted to give in to them without a plan. Make sure your substitute is a healthy choice and stock up.
4. Be prepared for a battle. Here’s the deal, when you give something up for a period of time, it will suddenly be everywhere. Whether it really is more abundant or if it is just your perspective, since it’s “forbidden,” you will feel like the world is against you. Your co-worker will bring in donuts, a friend will invite you to lunch at your “favorite” place where your “favorite” dish is off limits. You get the idea. It’s probably not a conspiracy by global powers to attack you, but you might feel like it at times. Have a plan (see tip #3 above) and be prepared to win the war, one battle at a time.
5. As long as we are making plans, go ahead and plan a cheat day. Really! Look ahead on the calendar and pick a day to indulge in your forbidden treat. You might pick a day where you have plans that revolve around food, such as a birthday, holiday or special occasion, or you might just pick a random Tuesday. You can also have “ish” rules. For example, when I gave up sugar in the past, I allowed myself to have yogurt and pre-packaged oatmeal, both which had added sugar. That was my “cheat,” and it made the rest of the challenge easier.
6. Try not to plan your challenge in a time when you will have a super high number of the special occasions described in tip #5. If you are traveling or it’s a busy holiday season, it’s probably not the best time to attempt a challenge. Sure, you can try, but it will be harder and you might get discouraged when you have too many battles to fight.
What did I miss? Have you tried giving something up for a period of time? How was it? Any additions to my list? Please share them in the comments!
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